How to tell if you drink too much


HOW many standard drinks do you clock up in a week?

Think about your total - that glass of red wine with dinner, the after-work trip to the pub on Friday, the occasional Saturday night bender.

If your number exceeds nine standard drinks in a week, you're probably consuming more booze than the average Australian.

A major study by the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), which surveyed 1820 Australians, found that most of us are "moderate drinkers" - that is, we have nine or fewer standard drinks per week.

While the percentage of drinkers has increased from 77 to 82 per cent since last year, more than three-quarters do so no more than two days a week.

During a single drinking session, 49 per cent of people drink only one or two standard drinks, and 31 per cent drink three to five. Only six per cent of Australians drink every day.

So, what constitutes "drinking too much" in Australia?

Speaking with, FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said one of the "hugely problematic" findings was the number of Australians who drink for the purpose of getting drunk.

According to the report, a worrying 5.7 million Australians said they drank alcohol with the intention of getting drunk, with most defining "being drunk" as "starting to slur speech or losing balance".

Mr Thorn described this as a problem category, particularly for people who "binge-drink" - go overboard on occasion and lose control of themselves - rather than people who spread that quantity out over a number of days.

While exceeding nine standard drinks per week wasn't necessarily a problem - provided it was spread out - he said anyone who consumed more than four standard drinks in a single session, or more than 14 standard drinks per week, would warrant concern.

The top 20 per cent of drinkers in Australia were consuming as many as eight standard drinks in a single session - the equivalent of a bottle of wine.

Mr Thorn said the top five per cent were getting through one or two casks of wine per day.

Bottled wine remains the most popular drink in Australia.
Bottled wine remains the most popular drink in Australia.

The news isn't all bad though. Australians are keener than ever to know about these issues.

"While we're all getting fatter and arguably less healthy than we may have been 25 years ago, there's an increasing level of health consciousness, and people are more concerned about wellbeing," he said.

So what are Aussies drinking?

Our reputation would suggest we're a nation of beer drinkers, but wine is actually the poison of choice for most of us.

The favourite drink for 29 per cent of respondents was bottled wine, followed by regular-strength beer at 22 per cent. Spirits came in third at 17 per cent.

Cider is also on the rise as a sweet alternative to beer, particularly among Millennials.

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